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New rules limit large ships near Bay Bridge in fog

SAN FRANCISCO — Oil tankers and other large vessels will be restricted from sailing beneath the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in dense fog under new rules shipping officials passed Thursday.

The San Francisco Bay Harbor Safety Committee passed the new guidelines five weeks after an empty oil tanker, the Overseas Reymar, sideswiped one of the span's towers and caused $3 million damage, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Five years earlier, the 901-foot cargo vessel Cosco Busan, piloted by John Cota of Petaluma, hit a bridge tower and spilled 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the bay.

Both collisions occurred in foggy conditions with visibility of roughly a quarter mile.

"We were responding to the casualty of the Overseas Reymar," said Cynthia Stowe, the Coast Guard's captain of the Port of San Francisco. "We're taking a very conservative approach."

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